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The state health department is working on a pilot program with libraries to give out free testing kits for Michiganders.

“We are continuing to find innovative ways to provide Michiganders with opportunities to protect themselves from COVID-19,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel said. “Testing is an important tool to limit the spread of the virus and we encourage residents to visit participating library locations to get their test kit.”

Nearly 5,500 test kits were sent to 18 libraries in Calhoun, Clare, Newaygo, Oceana and Saginaw counties as well as the city of Detroit. Each site received 300 COVID-19 at-home test kits that each include one test, MDHHS said.

Saginaw Public Libraries said Hoyt Library, located at 505 Janes Ave. in Saginaw, is receiving at-home test kits as part of the partnership with MDHHS. In Clare County, the Pere Marquette District Library in Clare, Surrey Township Public Library in Farwell, and Harrison District Library were included in the pilot program.

Test kits are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Michiganders are asked to take one kit per person, up to five per household.

More kits will be shipped to these sites as necessary and more libraries will receive the kits in the coming weeks, the state health department said. Demand for test kits is high across Michigan and the rest of the country, especially as the state experiences another wave of COVID-19 infections.

"This partnership is just one more tool to keep our school communities safe," said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan's chief medical executive. "Along with the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, mask-wearing and social distancing, take-home testing allows Michiganders easy access to testing."

The initial distribution of test kits will help the state’s approach to developing the project in partnership with the Michigan Library Association.

“With the proper protocols for distribution and pickup in place, we believe that this will be a great opportunity for libraries that want to participate to get involved as distribution points in their communities,” said Deborah E. Mikula, executive director of the Michigan Library Association. “Many of our libraries are ready to provide access to these test kits for our most vulnerable citizens and have been asking for some time how to get involved.”

To find a testing site near you, visit solvhealth.com. Community popup testing sites can also be found on Michigan.gov.

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